Home staging for a crowded living room

In a recent blog post I asked how you would handle a home staging consultation in the living room pictured here.

This room is similar to many you’ll come across in your home staging career. A lot of people actually live like this – with too much furniture jammed into small spaces and no attention paid to traffic flow.

The room here isn’t going to do anything to woo a potential buyer. First of all, when a buyer gets to the couch facing away from the dining room, they’re going to have to back up and turn around to find a different route into the living room! You and I know that whoever buys the house can arrange their own furniture however they like, but in home staging we need to help potential buyers imagine themselves living comfortably in a space because some people can’t see past these things.

The couch acting as a barrier to the living room is the major thing that stands out but the following is my complete list of recommendations for this living room:


These walls are fairly neutral and wouldn’t offend anyone. But for more punch, I’d look at Benjamin Moore® colors like Castelton Mist (HC-1) or Waterbury Cream (HC-31). These are both staging colors I have used in countless homes and recommend in the Staging Diva Ultimate Color Guide: The easy way to pick colors for home staging.

Of course the final decision can only be made in the room since colors look different under different lighting conditions. You also have to put the colors you’re considering up next to any existing fabrics in the room, the floor, etc. Colors look different depending on what’s around them and you want everything in the room to work together.

Rearrange and add furniture

There’s simply too much furniture in here. The wooden Television cabinet on the left needs to be removed – the space is too small for it and it acts as an undesirable focal point in this room.

I always try to eliminate televisions anyway, especially if there’s any other space in the home more geared towards watching TV like a basement or family room. If this client demanded a television I would recommend getting a flat screen to hang on the wall.

I would suggest a slipcover for the couch to update the look and I would move the couch under the window. It might have gone where the cabinet is now, but because there is another entrance to the living room area on the opposite wall, it could look a bit awkward there (this is easier to judge when you’re actually standing in the room looking at it from all the angles a potential buyer would).

There should be a glass-topped end table at each end of the sofa, each with their own lamps. I would also add a glass-topped coffee table in front of the couch with a couple of interesting books, decorative object or flowering plant (a vase will be too easy to tip over on a low table, especially if children live there or will tag along for showings).  I like using glass tabletops in small rooms like this to create the illusion of extra space.

With the couch on the wall where the cabinet is now, I would bring in a more modern arm chair to replace the gray one in the corner and rather than the table lamp, I would place a floor lamp behind the chair. A potted plant should go in place of the existing end table and I would add long ottoman below the window. When the couch is moved to the opposite wall, this will create a nice seating area.

With the couch under the window instead, I would place two matching chairs facing it with a small glass end table between them. This would create some visual separation between the living and dining areas, without blocking the path the way the current couch placement does. In this arrangement, an electric fireplace with mantel (and art above it) could be placed on the wall where the tall wooden cabinet is now. This will provide a nice focal point when viewing the room from the living room entrance and generally warm up the room.

In the dining room the black chair should be moved to the side of the table, at least for the listing photograph.


The family photo needs to be removed from the dining room wall and replaced with art. The contents of the china cabinet need to be carefully arranged to minimize clutter and complement the room.


New solid-color curtains should be added to the windows and the rods raised to about 4 to 6 inches below the ceiling. This will make the ceilings look higher.  The current print looks dated, even in the photograph. Use pre-made drapery panels to keep the costs down.

A flower arrangement in the center of the dining table would be a nice touch – something small in scale to fit the space.

I would hang a nice piece of art suitable for home staging on the wall above the sofa (if it’s not under the window) and on the opposite wall.

For more living room home staging advice read the Staging Diva Ultimate Design Guide: Home Staging Tips, Tricks and Floor Plans. It’s full of home staging advice and sample before and after photos from many of my home staging projects. You’ll also find my 80 favorite colors for home staging, arranged into color palettes in the Staging Diva Ultimate Color Guide. When you buy both guides at the same time, you’ll save $15.

Home stagers, is there anything I’ve missed that you would do to this living room? Which option would you choose: the couch on the wall where the wood cabinet is now, or the scenario I presented with the couch under the window and two chairs facing it?

Debra Gould, The Staging Diva®
President, Six Elements Inc. Home Staging

Debra Gould knows how to make money as a home stager and she developed the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program to teach others how to earn a living doing something they love. She is frequently profiled in the media for her home staging expertise and is the author of 5 guides for home stagers.

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